Saturday, 13 August 2016

Curse of Little Miss Flibbertigibbet

Rhyme of Little Miss Flibbertigibbet

"Poor, little Miss Flibbertigibbet,
All she did was rave and ribbet,
Til the day she spoke no more,
Her head went rollin' along the floor!

Tired of all the jib and jabber,
A lady cried and went to stab 'er,
A mighty slash, an arc of blade,
a headless corpse, the girl was made,

Then in the aftermath the head
Did speak as if it were not dead,
And Miss Flibbertigibbet hexed,
Whoever found her poor head next,

To gabber and jabber and scream and shout
without a sensible word about."

The Story 

Miss Flibbertigibber was a young lady who was unfortunately cursed by a witch. She was unable to stop talking, and ranted and raved until her tongue and gums bled. She was not able to tell anyone about the curse. The girl was thought by her fellow townsfolk to be a gossip and eventually they decided she was man or hysterical. In a fit of rage during a town meeting, when Miss Flibbertigibbet could not (not "would not", mind you) stop speaking, a lady seized a town guards sword and chopped her head off. 

Horrified, the townsfolk watched as Miss Flibbertigibbet's head rolled along the floor and continued to speak, shrieking hexes and curses with bulging eyes. The head was locked away in a heavy crate, placed onto an empty boat and sent out into the sea in hopes that it would die.

It is rumoured that the head is nearly indestructible and many a scholar, practitioner of dark magic or curious collector would pay handsome money to retrieve it and unlock the secrets of its curses.

The Head


The head, wherever it ends up, is a cursed object. It should not be displayed, something someone has tried to get rid of or hidden away in a tomb.

The head is that of a beautiful young woman and has been cleanly cut. At first it appears normal then as the players stare at it the head becomes more and more distorted. It does not decay; although the skin is pale and bloodless. The eyes bulge from the head with a milky white glaze over the iris and pupil. The hair is wild and dirty blonde. A great, long, slathering tongue protrudes from the head's wide open mouth where the jaw has been dislocated and the tongue moves of its own accord. From the head comes a vile monologue of gossip and nonsensical jabber. If you know secrets about the player character then the head will reveal them amongst the nonsense. The head may or may not tell the truth or distort it. Roll on the below to determine the nature of the heads curse:

1. The head will never tell the truth, it will concoct wild and fanciful stories that are entirely unbelievable and incredibly rude or harrowing.
2. The head will always tell tell the truth, the truth will include minute details which are usually irrelevant to what is being spoken about and the truth will do into detail.
3. The head will never tell the truth, but the lies will be believable and layered in fact making the lies believable. These lies are designed to turn the characters against each other or instill distrust.
4. The head will always tell the truth, harsh truths that the characters do not want to have to deal with. The truths may even be about events that have yet to occur.
5. The head spouts knowledge and useless facts. It is there to educate the players and does so in the form of commercial style jingles and lectures. If it is ignored, it will get louder and more obnoxious.
6. The head speaks in riddles and vagueness. It chooses if it wants to lie or tell the truth. This head is more interested in shit stirring and is easily amused by idle gossip. This head knows everyone and their sister and who their sister is shagging and will gladly tell this to the players.

The head knows it cannot be lifted without passing a curse on to the the character. The head will not willingly divulge this information. It will not shut up and appear to be sensible at first but the truth is the head is dead and it is the cursed tongue that has concious thought. The tongue acts as a parasite. The curse must inhabit a head, whether that be Miss Flibbertigibbet's or your players, and this depends on how stupid brave your players decide to be.

Attempts to mangle or destroy the head will not work. No matter how much the players attempt to mutilate it, the head will simply grow back and the thick, wagging, saliva coated tongue will continue to talk throughout its torture. The head does feel pain and will scream in agony if mutilated.

The head can be "killed" if it is dipped and left to dissolve in strong acids or burned over the course of several days. The tongue will escape to find a new host.

The Curse

The head can be gagged to silence it or the tongue can be cut out. If the tongue is cut out, the head will shrivel and die and the tongue will escape to find a new host.  The player will need to fight off the tongue or have it remove their own and be forced to speak nonsense forever. They will not be able to dispel this effect if they become the host of the tongue and they will take on the nature of the head as rolled above. They will also try to decapitate themselves in humorous ways on a daily basis, you can decide with the player how this is determined to ensure they still have fun playing.

If the tongue remains in Miss Flibbertigibbet, upon hearing the head speak the players will need to make a Save Vs Magic or Will save depending on your system. Anyone who fails will need to roll on the below table. They have been cursed by Miss Flibbertigibbet. The curse can be lifted with a Dispel Magic, or by a witch who examines the head. If you are feeling generous (but why would you want to be?), these curses can be temporary. Whenever the head is un-gagged, the characters or NPC's who hear it speak must roll a Save again, and continue to do so each time they hear the head.

1. The character can never tell a lie. The character will feel a compulsion to correct or tell the truth should another person they know is lying, lie in their presence. If asked a direct question, they cannot remain silent.
2. The character can never tell the truth. The character will feel a compulsion to tell a lie or cast doubt on the truth should the truth be told by a companion. If asked a direct question,they cannot remain silent.
3. The character's lips are sewn together by threads of bloody muscle and their teeth melt and fuse in their mouth. They are mute, able to make grunts and moans but unable to talk. Their lips can be cut apart and their teeth broken to allow them to speak, however, they will suffer facial mutilation.
4. The character's tongue and lips have a mind of their own. The mind of the tongue is incredibly perverted and enjoys wagging, licking and blowing raspberries at passersby, especially if they are important. The lips enjoy kissing, pursing and stretching into a grin during funerals. Overall, the character has no control over their lower facial expression.
5. The head of Miss Flibbertigibbet is the character heads, or so the character believes, and the head they are wearing is simply a place holder. Now they have found their true head, they simply need to find a way of putting it back on.
6. The character cannot stop talking. When they want to say something, it comes out clearly, however, between sensible conversation they will simply speak in gibberish. This might be what they are thinking about aloud or they will begin to talk about the weather or astrophysics. In order to stop the character from talking they will need to walk around with a gag which can then be removed when they have something relevant to say.
7.The character can now speak all languages except their own native tongue. They will be able to understand aliens, ancient Greek, Swedish, French,  English , Elvish, Dutch, Dwarven, etc. etc.. Although they can understand it when speaking, they cannot read it. They can still read and write their own mother tongue, they simply can't speak it.
8. The player characters head rots. The rest of their body is fine, their skin peels away and their tongue turns to ash in their mouth. Their eyes wither like dried grapes. This happens in a matter of minutes. The player is dead, their head having decayed alarmingly. Their skull occasionally, for no reason, laughs.

Make the head expensive, an item that has rumour surrounding it. If you want to entice your players to un-gag the head, have the rhyme of Little Miss Flibbertigibbet haunt their dreams. Give it a tune and hum it to them.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Burial Practices for Roleplaying Villages

Every NPC village needs a grim burial practice to freak out your players. This can be fun if your players are involved in the burial rites in some way; perhaps they need to do so to win the hearts of a suspicious town, or they need to take part because they killed the person being buried, or perhaps the selected Burial Practice is part of your characters culture. Whatever the reason, these should add a little bit of flavor to a role playing game.

D8 Table of Burial Practices for Roleplaying Villages.

1. The corpse must be buried in a mirrored box. The mirrors must line the inside and the outside. The belief is that the soul passes through the mirror into the afterlife. The mirrors on the outside prevent lost souls from entering the corpse. The glimpses in the corners of your eye are the shadows of the souls who have failed to pass through the reflection. If you stare into a mirror, your face might change or you might see movement, and that is when you have seen true reflection of the afterlife. Souls that aren't buried in a mirrored box are doomed to wander the earth. Some believe you can catch a soul in a mirrored jar and return it to the other world, but that is just silly, isn't it?
2. The killer or close family member of a corpse must lie in bed with the body from dusk until dawn First the corpse must be washed with lavender oils and then wrapped in silks. The Sleeper must comfort the corpse to help the soul rest with a familial embrace and comforting words until dawn. This is usually terribly uncomfortable for the Sleeper as the corpses eyes must not be closed or else their soul will be trapped forever.  The corpse is then buried in a coffin with the living Sleeper. The sleeper is usually not told about this, convinced they are going on a journey with the cadaver to ensure its safe burial. The elite of the town keep this a closely guarded.
3. The body is embalmed and then stuffed into the position of their occupation or role in life. If they were a potter, they will be stuffed and positioned at a potters wheel. If they were a parent, they might be holding a wrapped bundle. If the corpse was a prostitute, they will be in a position they were best known for. If they were a Soldier, they will be in a position of battle and so on and so forth. These corpses are then displayed in large underground tomb which also acts as a morbid museum. Some say that the corpses reanimate during the night and any left in the tomb will be adopted into the macabre display, usually during this time the tomb is sealed.  If a King or Queen dies with no heir, elected or through blood, then a long, slow process of embalming their entire court begins usually carried out by the military.
4. The corpse is roasted during a full days festivities in the town center. Music, dancing and a myriad of hot, succulent meals are enjoyed by all. Usually, if the death is not sudden, the deceased will have planned how they would like to be roasted and with what accompanying vegetables and paired alcohol. At the end of the day when dusk falls, the townspeople and villagers will dine on the corpse of the deceased. If the deceased is diseased, they will be dried and then crushed into a light powder to be sprinkled on a cocktail shot known as "The Shot In the Dark". It has a 1 in 4 chance of giving you one of the below sicknesses:
i. The Black Plague
ii. Dysentery
iii. Smallpox
iv. Rabies
v. Malaria
vi. Instant Death
5. The body is carried around either by the family or the individual who caused the death. If there are no family members and the death was natural, then a lottery will be taken to determine the "carer" of the corpse. The corpse is treated like a member of that persons family. They must carry it with them, feed it, clothe it, bathe it and act as if it is a real, living person for 1D20 months. If it loses a limb it must be stitched back on. If the limb is not replaceable then a crafted limb or head will need to be made for the corpse. This is just in case, on the off chance, the corpse is reanimated or decides to "wake up from its eternal slumber". If the corpse remains dead, as it usually does, then it is burned and spread over the space where it expired.
6.The villagers believe that the only way to truly reach the heavens is to have a "burial in the sky". The way this is achieved is the body is fired in a blessed trebuchet aimed at the sky. This is usually done when the sky is cloudy or even better, when it is foggy. To ensure the body reaches the "heavens" safely, the body must be strapped to a member of the town, or some brave adventurers, willing to take on the role of "Sky Guardian". The Guardian is dressed in a hide suit with "winged arms" and fired violently into the sky. Surprisingly, these Guardians never return to the village. The belief is that they are taken into the heavens as a reward for guarding the corpses journey to the clouds.
7. The corpse is turned into armour by a "Skinsmith" and worn a soldier who makes the best case to the corpses family or, if the deceased had no family, a group of town officials. The winner of the debate, showing the most respect and care for the deceased, will win the armour. The debates can last a while. If the corpse is a Fighter, the wearer of the Human Armour will gain a 1D4 bonus to their AC or Strength (your choice). If the corpse is a Specialist, they will gain 1D4 points to spend in their skills. If the corpse is a Magic User, the wearer will gain 1D4 spells (only one spell can be prepared a day) up to the wearers level. The armour does not last long and begins to decompose, losing its power, after 1D6 days when the soul is freed. A Skinsmith can repair the corpse with oils, and this will cause the armour to last a further 1D4 days. Skinsmiths in other locations are either rare or thought of in the same light as witches or necromancers.
8. The body is crushed into a thick, gooey jam, over several days, with clubs and knuckledusters by the townspeople. This is usually on an altar in the center of town. A guard rotation is set up to ensure that rats, wild dogs and birds do not devour the body whilst it is sufficiently pulped. The jam is then scooped into a metal box engraved with holy symbols. This carried by a Cleric or religious individual until the next full moon, then buried. Sometimes, it is said that the "jam" pulses in the night, letting off a faint red glow and if consumed the corpse jam will give the consumer vivid hallucinations of the past and future (it doesn't specify whose future). Opening the box and eating the remains is desecration and will condemn the soul. The carrier will need to make a Save Vs. Magic or Will save to resist the temptation of the Body Box. They will hear it whisper.

Images courtesy of wiki.commons 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Consequences of Leaving a Corpse

Consequences. You insult a robbed young woman you meet on the road?  Or do you help her? It will lead to a consequence later in the adventure. The woman  might turn out to be a dark sorceress who was testing you. Your kindness rewarded, your insults result in a curse.

The same should go for players leaving corpses lying around, desecrating a graveyard or wearing the heads of enemies on their shoulders in the hopes of gaining +1 Stamina.

Many cultures have burial rites. A corpse left without performing proper ceremonial funeral rites leads to disaster.

The Consequences of Leaving a Corpse Table

Apply this to all corpses or only a single cadaver of your choice.

Roll a D10, this will be the number of hours or days (your choice) it takes for the below effects to kick in.

Roll a D8 for the table below.

  1. The body (or bodies) festers and becomes putrid. The restless soul reanimates the corpse. The soul driving the body is restless and vengeful; it has no hunger or thirst, it's a corpse, instead it only wishes to cause violence and chaos. The reanimated corpse functions differently depending on its decay. It may be a shambling ghoul or a day old body with unnatural strength. 
  2. The player notices the corpse of their victim(s) slumped over tavern tables. They are dead, gaunt, staring. The corpse haunts from behind the bar, sprawled on the ground. The corpse stares in through their living room window. Eventually, they wake and find the corpse lying next to them in bed. The corpse follows them, from a distance at first and then they find it everywhere, all the time. It will follow them until it is properly laid to rest as per the victims custom.  You can make this a hindrance. If the players neglect the corpse (s) then they will begin to block doors during combat, or fall from great heights in order to cause harm to its victim.
  3. The player decays at the same rate as the corpse(s). Their skin rots, their lips wear away from their gums and their eyes begin to shrivel in their head. It is a length process and a painful one. Each day the corpse is unburied then the player rots further until eventually they are nothing more than bone. The player rolls 1D4 each day and removes HP permanently from their HP pool. They also suffer 1D2 to their Charisma. 
  4. The player inherits the memories and the personality traits of the victims they have left unburied. They are not being possessed or taken over, these are additional memories and traits on top of their pre-existing ones. They must make a Save VS Paralyze when one of these memories takes hold to avoid being temporarily incapacitated by the vision. If they fail, they cannot move for one minute. The personality trait is overwhelming; if the corpse is has an anxious personality, so will the player, to the point of it being a hindrance. A sarcastic personality will only ever be sarcastic, resulting in terrible results if a player is trying to have a decent conversation. 
  5. The body becomes a Rib Walker. The body turns itself inside out. It cracks open from the back and the ribs straighten out and elongate into hooked legs. Skin and muscle stretch over the skin to form webbing between the bones. The head of the victim also splits open with the teeth shifting alone the now exposed flesh. The brain pulsates and the throat opens up with the tongue lolling out, drenched in saliva. The Rib Walker crawls at 2 x the speed of a human, but its bones are brittle and once its ribs are broken it cannot walk. The Rib Walker will actively hunt the person who killed it and they do not rest, day or night.
  6. The bodies become portals for things to cross over from the dimensions of hell. Each body casts a Summon Spell. The demon erupts in an explosion of viscera from the bodies orifices. Use this link or have it summon a demon of your choice. 
  7. Vengeful spirits haunt the character who killed or had a hand in killing them. The player must make a Save Vs Magic every time they go to sleep to avoid being possessed by the spirit. The spirit will then seek to commit suicide in the players body as quickly as possible, in the hopes of damning the players soul in the same way they have been. The possessions will stop when the victim is buried or a Dispel Magic is cast on the possessed player. 
  8. The player experiences terrible nightmares and dreams at random times. They are haunted by the voices of those who have been killed. They are now unable to rest properly and recover health at half speed in comparison to others. After 1D10 days of leaving the bodies unburied, they no longer regain any health while resting and suffer permanent insomnia. If this continues for a further 1d10 days, their intelligence and wisdom quarters daily until they die.

    Rib Walker:
    HP/HD (Determined by type of corpse)  AC 12  DMG 1D6 ChargeCrushing Embrace: Once per day, the Rib Walker lunges, wrapping its ribcage around the player and crushing them for 2D6, The player can make a Dex save to avoid or a STR save to break free.

One of the only ways to negate these spells is to perform a burial for the body. Burials can be performed in a number of ways. The more morbid or disgusting the practice, the better. 

Artwork from  Wiki Commons. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Carnival

It's a working title. Last night we were two down for our usual World of the Lost game, so I decided instead to use the opportunity to play test a very loose scenario I'd been working on. I'm loathe to give too much away as the intention is to publish this one, but I'll post the introduction, along with a 'scene of the moment' - not the best scene, but a good stand alone one to share.

We ran it using +Chris McDowall's excellent Into the Odd, a light and easy rules system but one that worked so well with the scenario that I've decided to focus the scenario on being an ItO scenario. We had +Scott Dorward playing the town drunk and rat catcher, +Kathryn Jenkins as a sort of doctor role (complete with saw), and +Sarah Schiff as a whore and thief.

The Introduction

Moans of agony burbled into the night sky while the creatures of the woodland watched in silence at the procession crawling by. About twenty humans pulled themselves along the ground with a huge dome structure atop their backs; their legs had been chopped off at the knees and loosely bound, some leaving a trail of blood through the dirt as they hauled themselves forward.

Behind the group, several small caravans and wagons followed, also pulled by broken humans, their movements erratic. Atop the transport, kids laughed merrily and talked amongst themselves with barely a glance to the adults suffering ahead.

The carnival had come to town.

Scene of the Moment

Somehow, the kids were leaving the village and ending up in the carnival. Sarah ordered her dog (who she had a telepathic link with) to keep an eye on the kids while they explored the carnival at night. During the exploration, the dog told Sarah excitedly that it could see some of the kids leaving their homes, so Sarah ordered it to stop them.
A moment later, a yelp and a whimper sparked into Sarah's mind, and she could no longer telepathically speak to her mutt. The group rushed back towards the village to find two kids marching towards the direction of the carnival; both with blank expressions, but one covered in blood and holding bits of dog.

The group tried to stop the kids, but one stabbed Scott in the gut with a shiv, while the other beat Sarah with the bones of her own dog. Kat then shot both the kids as they marched onwards over her fallen comrades. The noise of course roused the villagers nearby as well as the folk in the carnival, causing the group to desperately try and hide the bodies of the children while they worked out what to do next.

Final Thoughts

First time running Into the Odd for me, and it was a delight. It's light, it's fast, but it still provides a good structure for resolution. The session itself went really well, and at the end we spent some time breaking it apart to find how to improve some of the scenes. I'm quite excited about this one, and look forward to getting it out to you all soon (hopefully with a better title).